Juan Pujol (alias Garbo)

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Joan Pujol García (Catalan), also known as Juan Pujol García (Spanish), MBE (14 February 1912 – 10 October 1988), was a double agent during the Second World War who was known by the British codename Garbo and the German codename Arabel.[1] He had a key role in the success of Operation Fortitude, the deception operation intended to mislead the Germans about the timing and location of the invasion of Normandy towards the end of war. The false information Pujol supplied helped persuade German intelligence the main attack would be in Pas de Calais, resulting in a decision by the German government to deploy the main body of troops there instead of in Normandy.

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World War II Double-agent

Born in the Catalan capital, Barcelona (Spain), Pujol developed a detestation of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union after his experience of fascism and communism during the Spanish Civil War. He decided around 1940 that he must make a contribution to the war by helping Britain, Germany's only remaining adversary at the time.

He initially approached the British but they showed no interest in employing him as a spy. So he resolved to establish himself as a German agent before approaching the British again to offer his services as a double-agent.

Operating initially in Lisbon, he pretended to the Germans that he was in Britain. He fabricated reports about shipping movements based on information gleaned from the library in Lisbon and from newsreel reports he saw in cinemas, and successfully convinced the Germans that he was reporting real information. He claimed to be travelling around Britain and submitted his travel expenses based on fares listed in a British railway guide. A slight difficulty was that he did not understand the pre-decimal system of currency used in Britain, expressed in pounds, shillings and pence. He was unable to make sense of the British monetary system, and was unable to total his expenses. Instead he simply itemised them, and said he would send the total later. Other mistakes would take some ingenuity in explaining by his later handlers - he once reported concerning a supposed visit to Glasgow that "There are people here who would do anything for a litre of wine". During this time he created an extensive network of fictitious sub-agents living in different parts of Britain.

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